Roasted garlic mashed potatoes are practically expected as a holiday side dish in my house, but they are just as easy to make for a weeknight dinner. You’ll love my lighter, healthier version without butter or heavy cream — especially with my secret ingredient for tang and flavor: buttermilk.  

Bowl of roasted garlic mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a quintessential side dish during the holidays or for sunday suppers alongside whole grilled chicken or beef short ribs. They are easy to make, affordable, and delicious. Plus, they’re a crowd-pleaser every time. What's not to love?

Add roasted garlic to fluffy mashed potatoes and swap the heavy cream for lighter buttermilk, and you get these roasted garlic mashed potatoes that are a little tangy, a lot garlicky, and one hundred percent amazing. 

Try roasted garlic mashed potatoes with buttermilk the next time you're craving a comforting side dish, and you want to keep your health goals front and center.

Table of Contents
  1. What potatoes are best for mashed potatoes?
  2. Buttermilk vs heavy cream in mashed potatoes?
  3. How to make roasted garlic mashed potatoes
  4. What to serve with mashed potatoes
  5. Tips for the best creamy mashed potatoes
  6. How to store and reheat leftovers
  7. More potato recipes
  8. Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes Recipe

What potatoes are best for mashed potatoes?

My favorite potatoes to use for mashed potatoes are russets, which are a type of high-starch potato, but I've been known to use medium starch potatoes like red potatoes and Yukon gold with great success.

Potatoes with a medium to high starch content work best in mashed potato recipes (and for frying like in our patatas bravas or baking like our Greek oven fries) because the low moisture content and high starch content creates that fluffy, light texture we crave in mashed potatoes or French fries. Nobody wants a dense spud!

For this roasted garlic mashed potato recipe I peeled the skins, but you can leave them on if you like the texture and color they provide to the dish. Just give the potatoes a good scrub and chop them up before boiling.

Buttermilk vs heavy cream in mashed potatoes?

I know most mashed potato recipes call for heavy cream, but trust me when I say that swapping it out for buttermilk will create a tangy flavor loved by all and it's good for you too!

Don't let the butter in buttermilk fool you it's actually low in calories and fat. Buttermilk is named as such because it was the liquid that remained after making butter.

  • Buttermilk is low in calories. According to the USDA buttermilk has 99 calories per cup compared to 821 calories in 1 cup of heavy cream and 152 calories in the same amount of whole milk.

Buttermilk is:

  • thicker than regular milk
  • tastes tart and tangy — think of the flavor of plain yogurt
  • often used in baking, but excellent in savory recipes too like this roasted garlic mashed potato recipe

Many use buttermilk similarly to how we use yogurt as a tenderizer and flavor enhancer in the best chicken marinade. In this roasted garlic mashed potatoes recipe, buttermilk adds creaminess and a subtle tang, perfectly balancing the roasted garlic.  

If you are not a fan of tangy flavors, just swap the buttermilk for an equal amount of whole milk! Your mashed potatoes will still be lighter than if they had heavy cream, you can avoid the tangy flavor of buttermilk and still all the roasted garlic goodness.

How to make roasted garlic mashed potatoes

Nothing complicated about these mashed potatoes! Boil up your potatoes, add seasoning, mash, and serve! Here’s more detail:

  • Boil the potatoes. Add 2 pounds of peeled, cubed russet potatoes to a pot with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil until the potatoes are fork tender. It's good to cut the potatoes uniformly so they cook at the same speed. Drain the potatoes well.

    Cubed potatoes boiling in a pot of water
  • Mash the potatoes. Return the boiled potatoes to the pot and add 1 ½ cups buttermilk, 1 head roasted garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Mash with a potato masher. 

    Cubes of potatoes being mashed in a saucepan
  • Finish and serve. Sprinkle minced chives on top and serve.  

    A bowl of mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, salt and chives

How to Roast Garlic

Learn three easy ways to roast garlic!

Roasting garlic is a great way to add depth and flavor to many of your favorite dishes. I'll show you how to roast garlic in foil and a muffin tin.

What to serve with mashed potatoes

You can serve this simple side dish with basically anything — no one’s going to complain about a heaping spoonful of roasted garlic mashed potatoes! Here are some ideas, both for your holiday table and your dinner table: 

Tips for the best creamy mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a staple in many households, but things can sometimes go wrong when making them! Here are my tips for the absolute best mashed potatoes:

  • Don’t undercook the potatoes: Make sure the potatoes are completely tender before draining them. Harded pieces of potato will not mash well, leading to lumps. 
  • Drain the potatoes well: Water left in the pot will give you watery, slightly soggy mashed potatoes when you mash them. So drain the boiled potatoes well using a colander. You can even let them sit in the colander for a few minutes to make sure all the water drains. 
  • Mash the potatoes while they’re hot. Mashing cold potatoes is a surefire way to end up with gummy potatoes.  
  • Avoid over-mashing: Another way to avoid gluey mashed potatoes is to not overwork them. Starchy potatoes should be mashed only until they are smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated. Resist the temptation to keep mashing beyond this point.  

How to store and reheat leftovers

Buttermilk mashed potatoes will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Rewarm them on the stovetop over medium low heat and add a little additional buttermilk to help loosen them up. Mashed potato pancakes are also a delicious way to use up leftovers!

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4.67 from 9 votes

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Summer Miller
Bowl of roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes made with buttermilk is a flavorful and healthy alternative to many traditional mashed potato recipes. This recipe requires roasting ahead of garlic before starting so don't forget to include time for that. I use our recipe for roasting garlic.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 15 minutes
Serves – 6 people
Side Dish


  • 1 head roasted garlic, use this recipe
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • minced chives, for garnish


  • Fill a large pot with cold water: Fill a large pot with cold water.
  • Add the potatoes: Add the peeled cubed potatoes to the pot with water. Make sure they are covered by at least two inches of water and turn the burner to medium high. Once the water begins to boil add the salt, and reduce to a simmer. Let the potatoes cook until they are soft and fork tender, about 15 minutes. Cook time can vary depending upon how small you cubed the potatoes.
  • Drain and return to the pot: Once the potatoes are cooked. Drain them in a colander then add them back to the pot and return the pot to the burner. Turn the heat to low. Add the milk, pepper, and squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the pot. Mash it with a potato masher until the potatoes are smooth and fluffy and the garlic has been equally distributed. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve: Transfer the roasted garlic mashed potatoes to a serving bowl, top with minced chives if using, and dot with any extra roasted garlic cloves. Enjoy!




Calories: 163.6kcalCarbohydrates: 31.8gProtein: 5.5gFat: 2.1gSaturated Fat: 1.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 6.6mgSodium: 1040.3mgPotassium: 730.4mgFiber: 2.1gSugar: 3.9gVitamin A: 100.9IUVitamin C: 10.1mgCalcium: 97.7mgIron: 1.4mg
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Summer Miller is an award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and an IACP finalist in essay writing and memoir. Her recipes, food writing, and editing chops span both print and digital media. You can find her work at Simply Recipes, Eating Well, Saveur, Bon Appétit, and the Kitchn among others. She is the Senior Executive Editor at The Mediterranean Dish.
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4.67 from 9 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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  1. Karen Visvardis says:

    4 stars
    Could you use whole fat greek yogurt in place of buttermilk? I always have yogurt, seldom buttermilk and always garlic, of course .

    1. Summer Miller says:

      Hi, Karen! I'm Summer and I work here at The Mediterranean Dish. Yes, you can use Greek Yogurt instead of buttermilk. Enjoy!

  2. Amy says:

    Could this be made using a dairy free milk alternative, like coconut milk or almond milk? I can tolerate goat's milk, but I've never seen goat's milk buttermilk. Maybe goat's milk kiefer?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Amy. I have made this recipe with both plain almond milk and plain oatmilk, and, while it did not have that tang that the buttermilk would have given it, it was still delicious with either.

    2. Summer Miller says:

      Hi, Amy! I'm Summer and I work here at The Mediterranean Dish. Yes, you could use unsweetened plant-based milks, regular goat's milk or goat's milk kiefer. The kiefer would give you the closest flavor to buttermilk. Let us know what you end up trying and how it turned out. Good luck!

  3. Cindy says:

    5 stars
    My family LOVED this recipe! Tried it out the other day, and I know it will be on the Thanksgiving menu for sure!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Yay! So glad to hear that!

  4. Mary K says:

    3 stars